Chief suspects in abduction of Nadiya Savchenko named


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has stated that two Kremlin-backed militants from the self-proclaimed Luhansk people’s republic [LPR] are suspected of taking hostage and abducting senior lieutenant of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Nadiya Savchenko.   The two men named are 50-year-old Ihor Plotnytsky and a Russian national, Alexander Popov. 

The statement came a day after Savchenko’s lawyer, Nikolai Polozov announced that his client had recognized Plotnysky as one of the men who captured her.  He explained that she had seen Plotnytsky, now head of LPR, on television.  At the time of her capture, Plotnytsky was the commander of Zarya, the biggest of the LPR groups.  Polozov accuses him of having led the group who took Savchenko from Luhansk to hand over to the Russian FSB [security service] on the Ukraine-Russia border.

The Prosecutor alleges that on June 17 Plotnytsky, Popov and other fighters carried out an armed attack soldiers of the Aidar battalion during which they took Nadiya Savchenko prisoner.  They interrogated her several times, but as the video which was widely posted on the Internet shows, did not succeed in breaking her.  Late in the evening, on June 23, it is alleged that she was taken by armed fighters from Ukraine.

Polozov also informed that Savchenko has appealed Monday’s extension of her detention for a further four and a half months.  She considers the announcement by the Russian authorities of plans to charge her with illegally crossing the border as pressure on her.

Nadiya Savchenko is currently in the notorious Serbsky Institute in Moscow, although she reports that no psychiatric tests are being carried out.  Savchenko protested from the outset at plans to send her to the Serbsky Institute, stating clearly that she would be refusing to cooperate with the staff of the institute. 

The Russian court responsible for considering her appeal against the decision to send her to Serbsky, with true cynicism, postponed the hearing until after the assessment is due to be concluded.   

On Wednesday a US State Department spokesperson called the ongoing detention and prosecution of Nadiya Savchenko lacking in any logic. 

Yet on Oct 30 Alexander Drymanov, spokesperson for Russia’s Investigative Committee claimed that there were no grounds for releasing Nadiya Savchenko and said that final charges would be laid after the end of all ‘assessments’, expected at the beginning of November.

Nadiya Savchenko is now an MP, having been elected as first candidate on the Batkivshchyna’s party list.  Her other lawyer, Mark Feygin has said that he will be collecting the documents to formalize Savchenko’s status as MP.

She was taken prisoner on June 17 or 18 and two days later a video appeared of her being interrogated by the militants.

At the beginning of July it transpired that she was being held in a Russian SIZO [detention centre].  She was first remanded in custody by a Voronezh court on July 2, then on July 9 Russia’s Investigative Committee announced  that she was being charged with alleged  “complicity in the group killing of two or more people carrying out official activities in a publicly hazardous manner for motives of political hatred”.

The investigators claimed that in June, as a member of the Aidar Battalion, Savchenko found out the whereabouts of a group of TV Rossiya journalists and other civilians outside Luhansk, and passed these to fighters who carried out a mortar attack which killed TV Rossiya employees Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin.

They also asserted that Savchenko had crossed the Russian border, without any documents, pretending to be a refugee.  They alleged that she had been initially detained to establish her identity.

This story is totally denied by Savchenko who says she was forcibly taken across the border with a bag over her head and in handcuffs.   The Russian investigators’ version is also wildly implausible, and now, to make matters worse, they are seriously suggesting charging Savchenko with illegally crossing the border.

There is compelling evidence available showing that Savchenko had been captured before the Russian journalists were killed.   The only impact that this appears to have on the investigators and the court is seen in the fact that they are continuing, in total breach even of Russian legislation, to hold court hearings without Savchenko being physically present and behind closed doors.

Halya Coynash

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